Party Shrine

by Thomas McCarthy

Come back,

poor Twenty-Sixer. Live on lack.

Austin Clarke.


My father is clearing the first Party shrine:

it is the summer of Sixty-Six.

He hates physical work and everything

that keeps him from the protection racket

of crosswords and history books.

But the rest of the Committee

has been drunk since the Jubilee

and can’t break the spell of itself.


Weeds know nothing about the Party

or how it emerged, genie-like,

out of an abandoned shell case.

The weeds and their friends the shitting

pigeons want to bury this shrine

in a single summer.

I am holding the shovel for my father

while he reads inscriptions on brass:

sixteen golden names of the Party,

the twenty-six grammatical flaws.

Reproduced with kind permission of the author.

Thomas McCarthy is an award winning poet, novelist, and critic. Born in Cappoquin, Co Waterford, and educated at UCC, McCarthy has published seven collections of poetry including: The Sorrow Garden; The Lost Province; Mr Dineen’s Careful Parade; Merchant Prince and The Last Geraldine. He is also the author of two novels; Without Power and Asya and Christine. His most recent book, Poetry, Memory and the Party: Journals 1974-2014 was published by The Gallery Press in 2022.

McCarthy will be leading Poetry as Commemoration workshops in Cork City Library in Autumn 2022.